Author Guest Post: Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz

Friday, December 10, 2010 |

Melinda Metz & Laura J. Burns

Books (Young Adult):
  • Echoes

Melinda Metz:
Melinda Metz has long been fascinated with the paranormal. She wrote about teen aliens in the Roswell High series, a girl with psychic powers in the Echoes series, and an evil force taking over a small town in Raven's Point. She's thrilled to have had the chance to take on vampires with oft-time writing partner Laura J. Burns in Crave. Melinda lives in Concord, North Carolina with her dog, Scully, who possesses one of the highest barks ever recorded.

Laura J. Burns:
Laura J. Burns has written more than thirty books for kids and teens, touching on topics from imaginary lake monsters to out-of-control Hollywood starlets. With Melinda Metz, she has also written for the TV shows ROSWELL, MISSING, and THE DEAD ZONE. They were nominated for an Edgar Award for their book The Wright and Wong Mysteries: The Case of the Nana Napper. Laura lives in California with her husband, her kids, and her two exceptionally silly dogs.

Shay has had a rare blood disorder since she was born. In fact, her mother married one of Shay’s doctors, Martin, who left his world-renowned leukemia research to try and figure out exactly what the disorder is and how to cure it. When she turns seventeen, Martin begins to give her new blood transfusions that make her feel the strongest she has ever felt. But she also has odd visions where she sees through the eyes of a vampire.
Road to Publication

There are many roads to publication. For example, The Situation developed his abs and tan, made sure his clothes were clean, and was outrageous enough to become a reality show stand out. Now he has a book being published./div>

What’s that you say? You have more of a two-pack than a six-pack? Then just for you, we've broken down a more standard journey to publication. Here, in several steps, is the typical way to go about becoming (dun dun DUN!) a published author:

STEP ONE. Write a book. It's almost impossible for a first-time writer to sell a book based on a concept, an outline, or even a partial manuscript.

STEP TWO. Revise the book. Revising is quite possibly the most important part of the writing process. Everyone does it! Sometimes it means cutting out scenes or even characters you love. Sometimes it means adding more detail or going through the painstaking process of mapping out a timeline and making sure it all adds up. Sometimes it just means punching up dialogue.

Before you revise, it's really useful to get some feedback from people you trust. They don't have to be other writers. Readers are also great at spotting plot inconsistencies, character problems, and typos. Don’t get defensive when friends give you notes you disagree with. Don’t think “it’s good enough” when your readers are telling you it’s not.

On the other hand, taking every revision suggestion is pretty much impossible because it's likely you'll get some contradictory advice. Our advice (which you should definitely take): Put in the time to think about the comments you get, and pay special attention to similar comments that come from more than one person, and then choose which notes you want to address. More of our advice: If you don't think you need to address any of the comments, you probably need to think a little more.

STEP THREE. Write a query letter and send it out to agents. The purpose of your query letter is simple—you want the agent to ask to see more!

Agents have specialties. You'll reduce your chances of being able to wallpaper your bathroom with rejections if you send your query to agents who represent the type of book you've written. One way to find these agents is to check the acknowledgement page in books that seem to be in a similar vein to your manuscript. Often authors will give a thank-you to their agent. Once you have an agent's name, you can look up the contact information in the Literary Market Place. (Most libraries have a copy.)

Query letters have a fairly standard format. They shouldn't be longer than a page, and they should go something like this:

Paragraph 1: A logline. That's a one line synopsis of your manuscript with a hook. Give genre and word count.

Paragraph 2: A longer synopsis.

Longer, but not more than a paragraph. Don't worry. You aren't expected to cram in every single plot point—or even necessarily to say how the book ends. Match the tone of your synopsis to the tone of your book. If your book is funny, show that in the way you describe the story. If it's suspenseful, make the synopsis tense. Check out the back cover copy of published books to find ideas on how to get plot and tone across in a short number of words.

Paragraph 3: Your writing credentials. This doesn't have to be other books you have published. If you're a member of an organization like The Society for Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, mention that. If you write a blog, mention that too.

Paragraph 4: Thank you. Agents are actually people. Really! So say thank you for his/her attention.

STEP FOUR. The agent calls with an offer to represent you. Hurray! Now you need to decide if the agent is the right person for you. Don't be afraid to ask questions about who their other clients are and how they've managed to market them. Also ask what the agent's plan is for your manuscript.

STEP FIVE. Your agent sends your manuscript out to editors at various publishing houses. Agents spend a lot of time talking to editors—either at lunch or on the phone—getting the scoop on what the editors are looking for. This way, they can handpick where to send your work. You don't want your sci-fi epic going to an editor who only does Regency romances, after all.

STEP SIX. Wait. And sometimes, wait, and wait, and wait. Editors have piles of manuscripts waiting to be read. And once they've found a manuscript they like, they will usually need to bring it up before an editorial board before making an offer. Your agent can—and will—nag, but it's still probably going to take months before responses from editors come in.

STEP SEVEN. Your agent gets an offer for your manuscript. Woo-hoo!! You discuss the offer with your agent, and decide whether or not to take it. Sure, you'll want to jump on the first offer, just to see your name on the cover of a book. But if your agent says not to, and can back it up with a good reason, then you'll want to give it some serious thought.

STEP EIGHT. Your editor gives you notes on your manuscript—and it's back to Step Two. Revision. All the same rules apply.

After that, it's time to start the writing again. Get to your next book! And then, one day, while you're neck-deep in revising THAT manuscript, a box will arrive at your door. It will be filled with books--your author copies. Of your novel. With your name on it. And that's where the road to publication ends!

Thanks to Melinda and Laura for stopping by!


~The Book Pixie said...

I started a book some time back but don't think I have what it takes to ever finish it, much less get it published. Honestly I don't see how authors do it. Great guest post!


Myles said...

Thanks I have been writing a book. But, is it possible for a 11 year old boy to publish a book? If so, why or why not?

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